Levitt Bernstein refurbish significant 20th Century masterpiece

Levitt Bernstein has completed a programme of restoration and improvements to the Grade II* listed Harvey Court in Cambridge.

by Jake 30 October 2012 Interior
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    This project encompasses the restoration works and improvements to the Grade II* listed Harvey Court in Cambridge, for Gonville and Caius College.

    The College's brief remained unaltered from the 1950s - to provide high quality accommodation for first year undergraduates.

    The original standards of accommodation were out-dated, lacking en-suite facilities, and requiring improved and more secure access. Fabric improvements were needed to increase comfort and save energy, and the building had suffered from persistent leaks almost from the outset, resulting in repairs which had compromised the original design. The time had therefore come to take the building out of service to undertake a comprehensive set of improvements and refurbishment.

    The core concern of the project was the manner in which the many problems could be resolved and radical changes made while remaining faithful to the essence of an important historic 20th Century building. Success would be gauged by minimising the impact of alterations.

    The new entrance at the northwest corner was a ‘given', resulting from the construction of a new porter's lodge to service both Harvey Court and a recently constructed building next door. It represents a radical reorientation of the building whose main entry point is now in a more intuitive and controllable location. It is executed with a light touch, deliberately down-played, re-using the original building vocabulary so as to preserve the integrity of the building's design.  From here access is improved, with a new lift and stair to the first floor gallery provided within the original circulation concept.  

    The bedrooms have been remodelled to integrate en-suite bathroom arrangements throughout.  Servicing is a challenge on a ziggurat form, whose shape and volume were not designed to accommodate modern-day requirements.  Through clever manipulation of the available space and high quality detailing of the joinery (in the original style), student rooms of the highest standard have been provided with a net loss of only two rooms - the result of introducing double space units for the disabled.

    Solving the leaks required a significant amount of careful dismantling of the building fabric and new detailing, but permitted the reintroduction of the original external finishes, so important to the building concept.The feature breakfast room roof-light, leaking and unmaintainable in its original form, has been reconstructed, retaining the internal timber structure, but with a new unobtrusive flat glass roof.

    General refurbishment throughout the building has improved the environmental performance of the building, provided an improved ambience for the social areas and made better use of underutilised space.

    Programme: Construction commenced June 2010, completed September 2011.
    Construction Budget: £7.0m

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